Hudlin Entertainment Forum

Show Bizness => Producing => Topic started by: Reginald Hudlin on August 14, 2013, 11:07:11 am

Title: Why 'Lee Daniels' The Butler' Has 41 Producers
Post by: Reginald Hudlin on August 14, 2013, 11:07:11 am
Why 'Lee Daniels' The Butler' Has 41 Producers
5:00 AM PDT 8/14/2013 by Pamela McClintock

"Lee Daniels' The Butler"
A who's who of black entrepreneurs, a Ukrainian-born billionaire, an NBA star and a wealthy New Orleans family helped back the $30 million drama.


No independent film is easy to get off the ground, but Lee Daniels' The Butler stands apart. A complex arrangement has led to 41 producers and executive producers credited on the historical drama, which opens Aug. 16 (as a way of comparison, indie Oscar winner The King's Speech had 16). Finding the $30 million budget meant uniting a disparate group, including one of America's top African-American female entrepreneurs, a former NBA star, a Ukrainian-born billionaire and an aspiring young film producer from one of New Orleans' wealthiest families.

The saga began in early 2011, when the late producer Laura Ziskin and her partner Pam Williams approached Sheila Johnson about helping to finance a movie based on the true story of Eugene Allen, a black butler who worked at the White House for eight presidents and had a unique view of the civil rights movement.

Johnson, who grew the BET network into a multibillion-dollar company with her former husband, Robert Johnson, before selling it to Viacom, is now vice chairman of Monumental Sports & Entertainment, making her the first African-American female to have an ownership stake in three pro sports teams, the NBA's Washington Wizards, the NHL's Washington Capitals and the WNBA's Washington Mystics, of which she is president and general manager. She also is CEO of Salamander Hotels and Resorts, a management company based in Middleburg, Va., that owns a string of luxury properties.

Johnson, who has financed four socially-minded documentaries, was immediately intrigued by The Butler and went home with Danny Strong's adapted script tucked away in her bag. "I read it, and then I read it again. I called them and said, 'This movie has to be made,'" says Johnson, who quickly arranged a meeting with Daniels and signed on as an executive producer. "In Hollywood, no one wants to step up to the plate to support African-American films."

Putting up $2.7 million of her own money first, Johnson then embarked on an aggressive campaign to recruit other prominent African-American investors. "I wanted to set a precedent," she said. Most people never got back to her but she was able to bring aboard a handful of black investors, including Earl W. Stafford, an entrepreneur and philanthropist best known for organizing The People's Inaugural Project, which paid for more than 300 disadvantaged youths to come to the nation's capital for President Obama's 2008 inauguration, and Harry I. Martin Jr., president/CEO of Intelligent Decisions, a leading provider of IT services to the government (they both have an executive producing credit). Brett Johnson, her son and a shoe designer, also put up funds.
On the West Coast, a crisis was looming. Ziskin died from cancer in June 2011, and director Lee Daniels was frantic about the fate of Butler. He and his producing partner Hilary Shor appealed to veteran indie player Cassian Elwes, with whom they were working on The Paperboy. "I told him I would help," says Elwes, who signed on as a producer. As Johnson and Williams -- who has remained a driving force and has the first producing credit -- continued to solicit funds, Elwes pursued more traditional avenues. However, many doubted the film's international prospects despite a star-studded cast.

In spring 2012, Ukrainian-born billionaire Len Blavatnik's British financing and production company Icon U.K. boarded Butler and put up a $6 million guarantee against foreign presales (Blavatnik is listed as an executive producer). Several months later, Stuart Ford's IM Global took the project to Cannes, where he closed $6 million in sales to foreign distributors. Two other key equity investors also entered the scene: former NBA star Michael Finley, whom Williams brought in as an executive producer, and Buddy Patrick, who is from a wealthy New Orleans family (he has a leading producer credit).

Daniels and his sprawling cast -- led by Forest Whitaker and Oprah Winfrey (who sources say did not contribute money) -- arrived in New Orleans in September 2012 with a cadre of producers. Within days, Sheila Johnson, who was on set, received a call from Harvey Weinstein, who is forever on the hunt for possible awards contenders. "I ran back and told Pam, 'You'll never guess who called,' " she recalls. The Weinstein Co. closed a deal for U.S. distribution rights without seeing any footage, committing to spend $30 million on marketing.

Weather delays would plague the shoot, driving up the cost. Elaborate sets and riot scenes also added to the bill. Originally, the budget was set at $25 million, but it rose to $30 million. "It got very hairy," says Elwes. Johnson agrees, recalling how nervous Daniels was about shooting the cotton field scenes. "I remember Lee saying, 'I hope we don't have to glue cotton to the plants.' Luckily, they were in bloom when we got there," Johnson says.

Ultimately, the investors -- some of whom are anonymous -- put up a total of $16 million in private equity. The rest was covered through $6 million in tax rebates, $6 million in foreign presales and $2 million in gap financing.

"It's a huge achievement," says Weinstein Co. COO David Glasser. "This is not your typical independent movie. It's spectacular how fierce these investors were in their quest to get this movie made. Harvey and I love it when a group of unknown people come together like this."

Adds Daniels: "They put their money on the table when the studios wouldn't. It's a story that's a movie within itself."
Title: Re: Why 'Lee Daniels' The Butler' Has 41 Producers
Post by: Metro on August 14, 2013, 05:33:34 pm

It is past time people disentangle domestic service from minstrelsy.  This project reminds me of the HBO production, "10,000 Black Men Named George." (http://movies.nytimes.com/movie/261222/10-000-Black-Men-Named-George/overview (http://movies.nytimes.com/movie/261222/10-000-Black-Men-Named-George/overview))

Militance grew from the dignity these men and women maintained, while suffering the original Jim Crow on the most personal terms imaginable.

Another resource in the same spirit can be found here. (http://www.amazon.com/The-Path-Freedom-Families-Jersey/dp/1596299924 (http://www.amazon.com/The-Path-Freedom-Families-Jersey/dp/1596299924))

Title: Re: Why 'Lee Daniels' The Butler' Has 41 Producers
Post by: Redjack on August 16, 2013, 04:15:02 pm
no. militancy grew from human beings having a boot on their necks.


and from them taking public stands, in courtrooms and on streets, at great personal risk to themselves and their loved ones. It did NOT come from serving in silence and waiting for God to deliver.


God doesn't deliver. People do.


Title: Re: Why 'Lee Daniels' The Butler' Has 41 Producers
Post by: Metro on August 17, 2013, 06:12:14 am

Cecil Gaines was not waiting silently for God to deliver.  Neither was William Ham.
Title: Re: Why 'Lee Daniels' The Butler' Has 41 Producers
Post by: Redjack on August 17, 2013, 10:18:47 am
cecil gaines is not a real person.
Title: militance
Post by: Metro on August 18, 2013, 11:18:44 am

Can fictional characters be the basis of principled analysis? 

Or, is your point to criticize some aspect of Eugene Allen's life because the Cecil Gaines character did not exhibit the behavior/attitudes you criticized?

Eugene Allen profile
http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/parishioners-remember-eugene-allen-as-a-devoted-peacemaker/2013/08/16/2248aeca-05e6-11e3-9259-e2aafe5a5f84_story.html (http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/parishioners-remember-eugene-allen-as-a-devoted-peacemaker/2013/08/16/2248aeca-05e6-11e3-9259-e2aafe5a5f84_story.html)


Title: Re: Why 'Lee Daniels' The Butler' Has 41 Producers
Post by: Redjack on August 18, 2013, 07:19:47 pm
My point is movies like this movie and THE HELP are not accurate depictions of history and when people, black, white, whatever, substitute fiction for real facts, they are hurting themselves.


in the case of black history they are hurting themselves a lot. too much.


Lee Daniels' track record of film making, were he not black, would have engendered picket lines around every theater in which they were shown. Oprah Winfrey's anti black male string of films (produced or starred in) is essentially the same. Based on the ad campaign, reports of the "niggerification" in the script and the track records of those involved (ironically not the track record of Danny Strong) there is no way I will sit though another of these Steppin Filmit productions.


They get the SGT WATERS award from me.


I am ashamed and saddened that so many of "my people" are so hungry for images of themselves in film that they will pay good money to have the same old bullsh*t stereotypes reinforced. Not by white people, this time, but by people like us.


Very well-trained dogs, it seems.


Personally, I prefer wolves. They have spines.
Title: Re: Why 'Lee Daniels' The Butler' Has 41 Producers
Post by: Emperorjones on August 19, 2013, 12:14:13 am
I agree a lot with Red Jack on this one. First off, Daniels remains on my crap list for Precious, so I wasn't too keen about The Butler. And when I first saw the trailer, it rankled me a lot. "This is that mane's world and we just livin' in it"-David Banner told his son early in the trailer and Forest later on saying "I know how to serve" and I'm like, is that the message we really need to be sending and embracing?  Despite the intriguing casting, the trailer was so full of sentimental crap I couldn't help roll my eyes. The Butler changing Kennedy's heart? Oprah slapping down her black nationalist son for being ungrateful.

Yes, our history is replete with maids and butlers and our Hollywood depictions-historically-are definitely filled with them. But that's not our entire history, why can't we show more of that history? I don't buy the arguments anymore that if we don't support The Butler we'll never get to those films. We aren't going to get to those films, not through Hollywood. Though even if we might somehow luck up and get one through the system, will it be supported by us? I can't believe that Fruitvale Station, despite also getting a lot of critical praise, was basically ignored by black audiences while The Butler is off to the races.

Granted, Fruitvale doesn't boast the big stars or got the big media/marketing push, and it's a definite kind of film than The Butler IMO, still it bothers me how black audiences didn't show up for it. Fruitvale is a tough film, its not a 'feel good' film like The Butler, I'm not even sure if it's inspirational like I'm sure some will claim The Butler to be (like they did with Precious) but I thought Fruitvale was vital. Then again, maybe it just shows how alike black and white audiences are. We both have been fed a diet of negative, subservient, subhuman, less than images of blacks and we are attuned to that and respond to it. That's why we support stuff like The Help or The Butler and cling to that as 'our' history so much. I think for whites it's coming from a different place, it reaffirms their place on top in the racial hierarchy and for blacks, it's like we feel we have to trudge in the mire-that we can't forget history or whatever-yet we do that all the time, and we put one part of history over others. I cringe that The Butler will do well, that it will get Oscar nods, that people will consider it an important film, that it 'elevates' or 'starts a conversation' and it will do none of those things.

If any film was going to that or do so this year it would've been, could be, Fruitvale IMO. But Fruitvale is now, it deals with thorny issues today, and The Butler is a fill good romp through a glossed over past that we can pretend has been placed in the dust bin of history, now that Obama's election has opened all doors  ::). In a way, The Butler is the perfect film for the Obama era. Be quiet, 'dignified', unobtrusive, ready to serve, and get in where you fit in.
Title: militance
Post by: Metro on August 19, 2013, 04:49:03 am

I guess I try to watch something before I criticize it.  I have done this already with LDTB.  There is plenty to criticize, but the representations offered here so far have little to do with the actual film.

LDTB is not Precious nor The Help. LDTB focuses little on the actual service of the job and more on the different approaches to political change.  Perhaps if we want more we can join/start a Kickstarter or Indiegogo for Danny Glover's Nat Turner project (or just watch the Troublesome Property production PBS offered a few years ago).

As for the politics of now, LDTB doesn't oppose Fruitvale.  It gives audiences ways to move forward to stop the genocide represented by the Oscar Grant and Trayvon Martin incidents.  LDTB explicitly characterizes the black experience in North America as a "200-year Holocaust."  In the end, the main character endorses the radical politics of divestiture to free South Africa, celebrating Pan-Africanism as the foundation for family restoration.  The son's radicalism (though clearly nonviolent) liberates the father. 

Wolves with spines confront hegemony on its terms, in its home, at its points of origin.  Getting beaten and killed in the streets by its employees and leaving little to change the circumstance for those who love you wastes effort, energy, and lives.  If anyone wants to build or expand your local organizations to confront injustice today, please message me.  I'm going to Oakland/SF, Arlington & Houston, Toronto, Kingston, Orlando, New Haven, Harlem, Newark, and Philly in the next four months to grow membership, funding, and programming to provide jobs, income, and business ownership.  From efforts to provide police oversight to building cells for occupying political and corporate spaces to protest inequality, I do that work every day. 

History and literature work hand-in-hand to expand freedom - in the past, present, and future.  How can we spread the word on your projects to contribute to the larger freedom movement?
Title: Re: Why 'Lee Daniels' The Butler' Has 41 Producers
Post by: Battle on August 19, 2013, 06:21:06 am
Oprah is back in the movies after 15 years
(http://i176.photobucket.com/albums/w184/Battle-D/HEFharpo_01_zps604e6d91.jpg)
Forrest & Oprah

(Associated Press/ NEW YORK

The day before Oprah Winfrey began shooting "Lee Daniels' The Butler," she was at the White House, talking to the president.

Her access to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue (this particular trip was for a 2012 campaign interview) is considerably greater than her character's in the film. She plays Gloria Gaines, the wife of a long-serving White House butler (Forest Whitaker), whose service spans seven presidents and decades of civil rights sea changes.

"They said, 'Do you want to talk to some butlers?'" Winfrey recalled in a recent interview. "I said, 'No. You got some butlers' wives? I'll talk to them.'

It was 15 years ago the last time Winfrey was on the big screen, in the 1998 adaptation of Toni Morrison's novel "Beloved," produced by Winfrey's Harpo Productions. In the time since, she's been slightly busy. "The Oprah Winfrey Show" grew into an enormous cultural force. Her work on the side in film (most memorably in Steven Spielberg's "The Color Purple," for which she received an Oscar nomination) took a back seat to being a television icon and an entrepreneur.

"I would only give my time to something that really mattered to me," she says. "I'm not interested in being in the movies for movies' sake."

But Daniels was persistent. He had sought Winfrey for the role Macy Gray ended up playing in 2009's "Precious" (Winfrey became a producer) and several other projects.

"It was hard," Daniels says of the pursuit. "I was looking for something to do with her, and I kept telling her: 'You have got to come back to work,' because she was magnificent in 'The Color Purple.' I wanted it selfishly for myself. I wanted to see her on the screen."

"I gave her a script she couldn't refuse," says Daniels of Danny Strong's screenplay. "I hooked her in. Once I got her in, it was over."

The timing was poor for Winfrey, who was then trying to get her cable network, OWN, off the ground. Though the network is now running more smoothly (it recently became profitable), the start was rocky, trying to find a programming identity and lure viewers to a new destination on the dial.

"I thought it was an important story to tell, even though I was in the midst of cra-a-a-zy business with my network," says Winfrey. "I said to Lee so many times: 'Lee, Lee, Lee. I cannot do this. This is not the time for me.' He was like, 'I'm doing it.
I'm going ahead.

And you told me, you promised me, Oprah!'"

While Winfrey was making "The Butler," she was knee-deep in running OWN: prepping shows, shopping for others and negotiating to bring Tyler Perry in as a producer (a move that's been a big factor in OWN's turnaround). But she regrets the balancing act.

"The way to do film is to take yourself out of your other life, do it, and then go back to your other life," Winfrey says. "I almost had a nervous breakdown."

"I hope something else comes along that will mean as much to me as this does, so that I would take the time and the effort to get it right," she adds. "It's work. It's no plaything."

Picking up acting again after a decade and a half wasn't easy, either, even for a seasoned show-business performer like Winfrey. She hired an acting coach (Susan Batson, who has coached Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman), she says, "because I was scared." Though OWN made for constant distractions, Winfrey otherwise reveled in acting again.

"On the days that I was in it, in it, in the character, it felt really good," she says. "It's a wonderful muscle to get to exercise again. I really do feel like that's exactly what I was doing. It's like putting away your instrument and not touching it, and then going back in and pulling it out. It felt rewarding."

The smoking and drinking Gaines is a rollicking departure for Winfrey. She's a sometimes surly housewife, flirting with an affair and overflowing with jealousy that her husband spends so much of his time wrapped up in another family's domestic life.  She mocks Jackie Kennedy's shoe closet and, with in an obvious wink to audiences, begs: "You know I want to go to the White House." In one memorable scene, she dances to "Soul Train." Had Daniels had his way, the part would have included nudity ó a  line Winfrey refused to cross.

But Winfrey, 59, has tirelessly promoted the film. Men like Whitaker's modest,  dignified character, she says "were the foundation of the African-American community."

"That is who we are," she says. "That is the heart and soul of who we are."

In recounting 20th-century African-American history, the film encourages conversation about racism. Many in the cast have been asked in interviews about their experiences, including Winfrey, who made news when she cited a Switzerland boutique that wouldn't show her a $38,000 purse. Her comments went around the world, bringing scrutiny,  denials and apologies.

At the film's Los Angeles premiere Monday night, she told The Associated Press that she's "really sorry that it got blown up."

"I was just referencing it as an example of being in a place where people don't expect that you would be able to be there," Winfrey said.

It is, though, the kind of dialogue Winfrey thrives in nurturing. It sounds almost like an episode of "The Oprah Winfrey Show," one that would carefully tease out the viewpoints of everyone involved.

"I don't know whether I'll ever do a movie again," Winfrey says. "What I do know is  that my role in life is to open the heart space for people. That's what I tried to do for 25 years on the 'Oprah Show' is to let people see, through the stories that we told every day, a way in for themselves and a way out, if necessary. This movie also allows an opportunity for that in a way I didn't expect."

Weekend Box Office
August 16-18, 2013

1. "Lee Daniels' The Butler"
2.  "We're the Millers"
3.  "Elysium"
4.  "Kick-Ass 2"
5.  "Planes"
6. "Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters"
7.  "Jobs"
8.  "2 Guns"
9.  "The Smurfs 2"
10.  "The Wolverine"

Title: Re: Why 'Lee Daniels' The Butler' Has 41 Producers
Post by: Vic Vega on August 19, 2013, 06:45:25 am
Haven't seen either film yet.

I CAN opine on this tho:

Fruitvale Station came out in mid July on the same weekend that Grown Ups 2 and Pacific Rim came out. Fruitvale Station does not have a
name director or any star attached to it (tho it may make a star out of Mike B. Jordan).

The Butler came out in mid August and its only competition was Kick Ass 2, a sequel to a fluke cult hit. The Butler has Lee Daniels directing it and it stars...well who isn't in that movie?

There are dozens of non political reasons why Fruitvale didn't do well and most of them are more valid if you ask me.

I don't particularly buy the idea that Black folk avoided Fruitvale Station to watch The Butler instead, either. You ask me more Liberal Whites went to see the movie with Oprah in it than the movie where the brother pointlessly dies at the end. That kind of thing bums them out. For us, its just flat out painful so we aren't even entertaining watching it for the most part. 

Who needs to be reminded of @#$% that you worry about every day?

If anything we probably ran out to see Grown Ups 2 because Chris Rock was in it and it wasn't depressing and none of the Black folk in it were oppressed or torn up.

Unless its a hood flick and has action or whatever, we tend to avoid watch movies where we are broke/going thru turmoil. Perry does well with his melodramas where at least half of the Black folk in the movie have money.  Stuff like Caged Bird and I can Do Bad All By Myself appeals to some sisters sense of grievance. But even there the protagonist can't all be broke.

I'm sure that they were some Black folks that saw the Butler and not Fruitvale, but I don't think the divide between the two is as clear cut as all that.
Title: Re: militance
Post by: Redjack on August 19, 2013, 10:10:24 am

I guess I try to watch something before I criticize it.  I have done this already with LDTB.  There is plenty to criticize, but the representations offered here so far have little to do with the actual film.


Luckily I'll never know.

Quote
LDTB is not Precious nor The Help. LDTB focuses little on the actual service of the job and more on the different approaches to political change.  Perhaps if we want more we can join/start a Kickstarter or Indiegogo for Danny Glover's Nat Turner project (or just watch the Troublesome Property production PBS offered a few years ago).


You're being snide but it's based on an assumption, at least in my case, that is false. You're implying that this film does something to enhance or support the "larger freedom movement." It does not. it is literally impossible for Daniels and Winfrey to have created such a film.

Quote
As for the politics of now, LDTB doesn't oppose Fruitvale.  It gives audiences ways to move forward to stop the genocide represented by the Oscar Grant and Trayvon Martin incidents.  LDTB explicitly characterizes the black experience in North America as a "200-year Holocaust."  In the end, the main character endorses the radical politics of divestiture to free South Africa, celebrating Pan-Africanism as the foundation for family restoration.  The son's radicalism (though clearly nonviolent) liberates the father. 


Whoopee.

Quote
Wolves with spines confront hegemony on its terms, in its home, at its points of origin.  Getting beaten and killed in the streets by its employees and leaving little to change the circumstance for those who love you wastes effort, energy, and lives.  If anyone wants to build or expand your local organizations to confront injustice today, please message me.  I'm going to Oakland/SF, Arlington & Houston, Toronto, Kingston, Orlando, New Haven, Harlem, Newark, and Philly in the next four months to grow membership, funding, and programming to provide jobs, income, and business ownership.  From efforts to provide police oversight to building cells for occupying political and corporate spaces to protest inequality, I do that work every day. 


Good for you. But you do NOT last 30 years  on the White House serving staff by being politically VISIBLE much less confrontational. Any parity drawn between the two "positions" is false and corruptive.


Wasted effort, huh? I'm sure Medgar Evers will be happy to know his sacrifice means nothing to you. And there was this loudmouth preacher too. What was his name? I think he has a holiday now. And those three dead kids and the little girls killed at church. And the bus lady. What was her name again?  And stacks of others who ACTUALLY "changed the president's heart."

Quote
History and literature work hand-in-hand to expand freedom - in the past, present, and future.  How can we spread the word on your projects to contribute to the larger freedom movement?


Again, you're clearly trying to imply that this film has something to do with "the larger freedom movement" and that I, at least, am doing nothing in that respect. Both false. I've been active, either monetarily or physically or both, in helping "the downtrodden" for my entire life, not that I need to justify anything to you.
Title: Re: Why 'Lee Daniels' The Butler' Has 41 Producers
Post by: Redjack on August 19, 2013, 11:57:29 am
http://www.yourblackworld.net/2013/08/black-news/princeton-prof-says-the-butler-has-problematic-politics-and-troubling-images-of-women/ (http://www.yourblackworld.net/2013/08/black-news/princeton-prof-says-the-butler-has-problematic-politics-and-troubling-images-of-women/)


http://blogs.indiewire.com/shadowandact/harry-lennixs-take-on-lee-daniels-the-butler-and-it-aint-pretty (http://blogs.indiewire.com/shadowandact/harry-lennixs-take-on-lee-daniels-the-butler-and-it-aint-pretty)

food for thought, Butler supporters.
Title: Re: Why 'Lee Daniels' The Butler' Has 41 Producers
Post by: Emperorjones on August 19, 2013, 03:06:35 pm
Haven't seen either film yet.

I CAN opine on this tho:

Fruitvale Station came out in mid July on the same weekend that Grown Ups 2 and Pacific Rim came out. Fruitvale Station does not have a
name director or any star attached to it (tho it may make a star out of Mike B. Jordan).

The Butler came out in mid August and its only competition was Kick Ass 2, a sequel to a fluke cult hit. The Butler has Lee Daniels directing it and it stars...well who isn't in that movie?

There are dozens of non political reasons why Fruitvale didn't do well and most of them are more valid if you ask me.

I don't particularly buy the idea that Black folk avoided Fruitvale Station to watch The Butler instead, either. You ask me more Liberal Whites went to see the movie with Oprah in it than the movie where the brother pointlessly dies at the end. That kind of thing bums them out. For us, its just flat out painful so we aren't even entertaining watching it for the most part. 

Who needs to be reminded of @#$% that you worry about every day?

If anything we probably ran out to see Grown Ups 2 because Chris Rock was in it and it wasn't depressing and none of the Black folk in it were oppressed or torn up.

Unless its a hood flick and has action or whatever, we tend to avoid watch movies where we are broke/going thru turmoil. Perry does well with his melodramas where at least half of the Black folk in the movie have money.  Stuff like Caged Bird and I can Do Bad All By Myself appeals to some sisters sense of grievance. But even there the protagonist can't all be broke.

I'm sure that they were some Black folks that saw the Butler and not Fruitvale, but I don't think the divide between the two is as clear cut as all that.

Granted I will give you the two release dates and The Butler's  people picked a very good release date for it. Perhaps a later date would have gotten a bit more notice for Fruitvale, but I doubt it. I'm assuming that The Butler got a wider release and much better marketing, plus it had big name stars including Oprah. Fruitvale was more a little engine that could and The Butler roared out the gate as Oscar bait.

There are people who don't want to be reminded of what's going on today or everyday as you put it, but that runs counter to some of the guilt arguments for watching the painful history represented by The Butler. For The Butler some might argue that we 'have' to watch it or face up or acknowledge this history. If some people are going to The Butler because of that, I don't see why they wouldn't go to Fruitvale. Further, The Butler might arguably trudge in more depictions of oppression than Fruitvale ever did, from what I've read about the story. For the most part the tragedy occupied a very small part of the film, though the entire project was building toward it. I think The Butler is more appealing because it is a safer story that can be seen as something of a historical relic, of a tragic past overcome, or so we like to tell ourselves. Whereas Fruitvale sort of undoes that narrative. So I do get that it's hard for people to deal with what's going on around them. Sometimes you just want escapism. I do too. I've seen just about every blockbuster this summer and spend tons of time on trivial pursuits. But other times I think it doesn't hurt to watch good films where black people are portrayed three-dimensionally and without an overdose of negativity. Just going on Precious, I had severe doubts I was going to get that with The Butler.

Beyond the painful subject matter I thought Fruitvale gave nuance performances and felt organic, without the overwrought melodrama or negativity that I got from Precious. I can't speak on what's in The Butler. The trailer was enough to turn me off.

I didn't say that more people purposely avoided Fruitvale to see The Butler. I'm sure there are people who watched both. What I did find curious was the relative lack of support among black audiences for Fruitvale as opposed to The Butler or other black films. To me, Fruitvale, despite the painful and tragic subject, seemed like the kind of contemporary black film that some have expressed a desire to see on various forums and articles. Yet we didn't show up in sufficient numbers to see it.

I disagree with you that we tend to avoid movies where we are going broke or in turmoil, because what is a hood movie if it doesn't involve those things? Of if they don't play a large role in either the story or are the setting and backdrop? Granted there is more interest in upper class or middle class romantic comedies, but even Tyler Perry touches on poverty. To his credit, some of Perry's films show various socioeconomic levels of black life, at times more than other black films do that seem to focus on either the rich or the poor.
Title: Re: Why 'Lee Daniels' The Butler' Has 41 Producers
Post by: Emperorjones on August 19, 2013, 03:13:04 pm
[url]http://www.yourblackworld.net/2013/08/black-news/princeton-prof-says-the-butler-has-problematic-politics-and-troubling-images-of-women/[/url] ([url]http://www.yourblackworld.net/2013/08/black-news/princeton-prof-says-the-butler-has-problematic-politics-and-troubling-images-of-women/[/url])


[url]http://blogs.indiewire.com/shadowandact/harry-lennixs-take-on-lee-daniels-the-butler-and-it-aint-pretty[/url] ([url]http://blogs.indiewire.com/shadowandact/harry-lennixs-take-on-lee-daniels-the-butler-and-it-aint-pretty[/url])

food for thought, Butler supporters.


What that professor said about the black power movement, that's one of the things that I thought was going to happen when I saw that Oprah slap scene. And I wasn't surprised about this film making Obama the end point of the civil rights struggle. Black liberal consensus, is a good term for that kind of rosy thinking.
Title: Re: militance
Post by: Metro on August 19, 2013, 03:19:06 pm
Quote
LDTB is not Precious nor The Help. LDTB focuses little on the actual service of the job and more on the different approaches to political change.  Perhaps if we want more we can join/start a Kickstarter or Indiegogo for Danny Glover's Nat Turner project (or just watch the Troublesome Property production PBS offered a few years ago).


You're being snide ... [snip]

Never. I have respect for you and your work.

Quote
Wolves with spines confront hegemony on its terms, in its home, at its points of origin.  Getting beaten and killed in the streets by its employees and leaving little to change the circumstance for those who love you wastes effort, energy, and lives.  If anyone wants to build or expand your local organizations to confront injustice today, please message me.  I'm going to Oakland/SF, Arlington & Houston, Toronto, Kingston, Orlando, New Haven, Harlem, Newark, and Philly in the next four months to grow membership, funding, and programming to provide jobs, income, and business ownership.  From efforts to provide police oversight to building cells for occupying political and corporate spaces to protest inequality, I do that work every day. 


Good for you. But you do NOT last 30 years  on the White House serving staff by being politically VISIBLE much less confrontational. Any parity drawn between the two "positions" is false and corruptive.

[thinking in binaries is even more problematic.  as e. glaude would gladly tell you.]

Wasted effort, huh? I'm sure Medgar Evers will be happy to know his sacrifice means nothing to you. And there was this loudmouth preacher too. What was his name? I think he has a holiday now. And those three dead kids and the little girls killed at church. And the bus lady. What was her name again?  And stacks of others who ACTUALLY "changed the president's heart."

[Evers, King, SNCC all did substantial work *before* they were killed.  It was not their deaths that changed policy; it was their lives and the lives of their surviving colleagues that transformed the nation and the world.  To emphasize the killings empowers their opponents - both historic and current.]

Quote
History and literature work hand-in-hand to expand freedom - in the past, present, and future.  How can we spread the word on your projects to contribute to the larger freedom movement?


Again, you're clearly trying to imply that this film has something to do with "the larger freedom movement" and that I, at least, am doing nothing in that respect. Both false. I've been active, either monetarily or physically or both, in helping "the downtrodden" for my entire life, not that I need to justify anything to you.

No, I invited you to share thoughts on ways to move forward constructively based on the work that I pre-supposed you do already.

I'm now curious about why you're absolutely convinced that Oprah Winfrey and Lee Daniels *cannot* be a part of a larger freedom movement.  Entertainers have a long history of involvement in advancing the freedom movement, even (perhaps, especially) before the Brown decision.

My only goal in this thread is to recognize people who sacrificed mightily (and often silently) to provide the income and opportunity for others to organize in support of greater freedom.  That story is fictionalized in LDTB, but some groundbreaking research shows how prevalent this relationship between domestic service workers and early civil rights organizations was. 

Accepting the stereotype that all maids, butlers, porters, and other domestics were servile cripples any accurate understanding of history or social change.
Title: Re: Why 'Lee Daniels' The Butler' Has 41 Producers
Post by: Metro on August 19, 2013, 03:30:55 pm
[url]http://www.yourblackworld.net/2013/08/black-news/princeton-prof-says-the-butler-has-problematic-politics-and-troubling-images-of-women/[/url] ([url]http://www.yourblackworld.net/2013/08/black-news/princeton-prof-says-the-butler-has-problematic-politics-and-troubling-images-of-women/[/url])


[url]http://blogs.indiewire.com/shadowandact/harry-lennixs-take-on-lee-daniels-the-butler-and-it-aint-pretty[/url] ([url]http://blogs.indiewire.com/shadowandact/harry-lennixs-take-on-lee-daniels-the-butler-and-it-aint-pretty[/url])

food for thought, Butler supporters.


Lennix and Glaude make completely different points.  I agree with Glaude's critical evaluation of women's roles in LDTB.  Those criticisms are the core of my public analysis -- I even go further than most who share that critique by catching the absent wife during the son's post-black power phase.

Lennix, otoh, rejects the premise of the film that domestic service workers in the White House can participate in one phase of civil rights activism and, then, still be actively transformed by the courage and sacrifices they previously saw as too dangerous.

I'm not trying to convince you to see the film or even change your opinion about films that depict people accepting oppression as worthy of focus or emulation.

Most of all, I'm trying to engage you in the serious and continuing work of social change beyond the film, beyond this message board, beyond the idea of complicit people vs. activist people.

My project is reconciliation here - with you.  I regret any tone of snideness or implication of judgment you have taken from my words to this point.

Title: Re: Why 'Lee Daniels' The Butler' Has 41 Producers
Post by: Metro on August 19, 2013, 03:42:30 pm
Quote
What that professor said about the black power movement, that's one of the things that I thought was going to happen when I saw that Oprah slap scene. And I wasn't surprised about this film making Obama the end point of the civil rights struggle. Black liberal consensus, is a good term for that kind of rosy thinking.

The slap scene is really fertile ground for discussion.  It's a little funny to be that no one notices that the mother defends the son up to the point that the son actually insults the father for his career. 

It is not a slap when he entered the house or when he told his father that Sidney Poitier was an Uncle Tom figure in Hollywood.  The son continually escalated a confrontation at the dinner table as his guest openly disrespected his mother.

Context is very important to consider any aspect of the story in LDTB.  There are serious dramatic missteps and frequent misrepresentations of Allen's actual life, but I wish more folks engaged the story as a work of historical fiction -- more along the lines of  Oates' Approaching Fury or Shaara's Killer Angels.

Title: Re: Why 'Lee Daniels' The Butler' Has 41 Producers
Post by: Redjack on August 19, 2013, 03:45:33 pm
[url]http://www.yourblackworld.net/2013/08/black-news/princeton-prof-says-the-butler-has-problematic-politics-and-troubling-images-of-women/[/url] ([url]http://www.yourblackworld.net/2013/08/black-news/princeton-prof-says-the-butler-has-problematic-politics-and-troubling-images-of-women/[/url])


[url]http://blogs.indiewire.com/shadowandact/harry-lennixs-take-on-lee-daniels-the-butler-and-it-aint-pretty[/url] ([url]http://blogs.indiewire.com/shadowandact/harry-lennixs-take-on-lee-daniels-the-butler-and-it-aint-pretty[/url])

food for thought, Butler supporters.


Lennix and Glaude make completely different points.  I agree with Glaude's critical evaluation of women's roles in LDTB.  Those criticisms are the core of my public analysis -- I even go further than most who share that critique by catching the absent wife during the son's post-black power phase.

Lennix, otoh, rejects the premise of the film that domestic service workers in the White House can participate in one phase of civil rights activism and, then, still be actively transformed by the courage and sacrifices they previously saw as too dangerous.

I'm not trying to convince you to see the film or even change your opinion about films that depict people accepting oppression as worthy of focus or emulation.

Most of all, I'm trying to engage you in the serious and continuing work of social change beyond the film, beyond this message board, beyond the idea of complicit people vs. activist people.

My project is reconciliation here - with you.  I regret any tone of snideness or implication of judgment you have taken from my words to this point.



they make different points, yes. and they are both valid. in fact, they overlap. it's what's called dovetailing. Lennix didn't just see the trailers; he READ THE SCRIPT. At least as far as he could stomach.


i do not agree that those who went-along-to-get-along have equal footing with those who faced the dogs and the bullets. because they do not.


black folks need to wake up about a LOT of what's going on in this nation both in the present and in the future. movies like this are about keeping them asleep. Because they presents a FALSE, subservient picture of reality that has nothing to do with what actually occurred. and they feed the "soft racism" that created stop-and-frisk and every glass ceiling on which people bump their heads.


WILL they wake up?


Nope. I'm betting not.


Ultimately, as the numbers seem to show, I and those like me are in the minority on this. This makes me sad because a lot of folks are drinking the kool-aid.


But just because they're all committing suicide, there's no rule that says I have to. Certainly not because we're all black.


This film is not worthy of serious discussion unless it is the sort of corrective conversation that follows any big lie.


Oprah and Daniels are not incapable of being part of a "freedom movement." They are incapable of identifying or describing it.



As for the rest. You said what you said and the implication of your approach was clear. I'm not a joiner and I don't do second impressions but we can keep talking if you want.
Title: Re: Why 'Lee Daniels' The Butler' Has 41 Producers
Post by: Metro on August 19, 2013, 04:12:15 pm
they make different points, yes. and they are both valid. in fact, they overlap. it's what's called dovetailing. Lennix didn't just see the trailers; he READ THE SCRIPT. At least as far as he could stomach.


i do not agree that those who went-on-to-get-along have equal footing with those who faced the dogs and the bullets. because they do not.


black folks need to wake up about a LOT of what's going on in this nation both in the present and in the future. movies like this are about keeping them asleep. Because they presents a FALSE, subservient picture of reality that has nothing to do with what actually occurred. and they feed the "soft racism" that created stop-and-frisk and every glass ceiling on which people bump their heads.


WILL they wake up?


Nope. I'm betting not.


Ultimately, as the numbers seem to show, I and those like me are in the minority on this. This makes me sad because a lot of folks are drinking the kool-aid.


But just because they're all committing suicide, there's no rule that says I have to. Certainly not because we're all black.

... Few people 'go along to get along' in the film - maybe the Terence Howard character.

... On what's going on, there is a difference between fighting symptoms and fighting causes - but both are important. That's a major theme in the film.

... On soft racism, I need a little clarification on this point.  Every form of racism I've felt has been hard -- not always violent, but never  soft.  Having smashed more than a few glass ceilings, my approach to G.W. Bush's idea of "soft bigotry of low expectations" is that it is a rhetorical point that betrays the CCC agenda and the failings of small government conservatism more than most phrases.

... Again, my invitation to help wake people stands.

... Phrases like 'drinking kool-aid' and 'commit suicide' rightly imply the dire situation many currently face, but they also communicate a contempt for those who might differ in terms of tactics, not strategy.  My business is building bridges, so I try to avoid that language. 

You and I disagree on the role and value of a film like LDTB.  Hopefully, that disagreement is not cause to equate Stephen from Django with Cecil Gaines in LDTB. 

Worse, it should not cause either of us to avoid discussing films like "10,000 Black Men named George" or "Nat Turner: A Troublesome Property", which address similar topics of historical fiction and representations of black workers in terms of their civil rights work.  Even "The Great Debaters" touches on this topic through Forest Whitaker's performance as Dr. James Farmer, Sr.
Title: Re: Why 'Lee Daniels' The Butler' Has 41 Producers
Post by: Metro on August 19, 2013, 04:15:11 pm
This film is not worthy of serious discussion unless it is the sort of corrective conversation that follows any big lie.

Oprah and Daniels are not incapable of being part of a "freedom movement." They are incapable of identifying or describing it.

As for the rest. You said what you said and the implication of your approach was clear. I'm not a joiner and I don't do second impressions but we can keep talking if you want.

Implications are seldom clear, especially when reading tone online.

Why are Winfrey and Daniels incapable?
What is the big lie?
Title: Re: Why 'Lee Daniels' The Butler' Has 41 Producers
Post by: Rockscissorspaper on August 19, 2013, 04:15:28 pm
There are dozens of non political reasons why Fruitvale didn't do well and most of them are more valid if you ask me.

Relative to it's budget, Fruitvale did VERY well.
Title: Re: Why 'Lee Daniels' The Butler' Has 41 Producers
Post by: Emperorjones on August 19, 2013, 04:43:16 pm
Quote
What that professor said about the black power movement, that's one of the things that I thought was going to happen when I saw that Oprah slap scene. And I wasn't surprised about this film making Obama the end point of the civil rights struggle. Black liberal consensus, is a good term for that kind of rosy thinking.

The slap scene is really fertile ground for discussion.  It's a little funny to be that no one notices that the mother defends the son up to the point that the son actually insults the father for his career. 

It is not a slap when he entered the house or when he told his father that Sidney Poitier was an Uncle Tom figure in Hollywood.  The son continually escalated a confrontation at the dinner table as his guest openly disrespected his mother.

Context is very important to consider any aspect of the story in LDTB.  There are serious dramatic missteps and frequent misrepresentations of Allen's actual life, but I wish more folks engaged the story as a work of historical fiction -- more along the lines of  Oates' Approaching Fury or Shaara's Killer Angels.

I think you're confirming what my concerns were. The black power movement/black nationalism has to be dismissed and considered disreputable, as evidenced by the behavior I read about from the disrespectful son and his female friend. The black nationalists, as symbolized by the son in that scene had to be symbolically slapped down and its adherents had to be described as ungrateful. This is more bashing of black nationalism and I think it does us a disservice to dismiss that strain of thought.

In fact I think our embrace of black liberalism and the dominance of the black liberal consensus (I'm stealing that term now) is one of the reasons why our political debates have become so tired and stale. Black liberals are constantly trying to seek white acceptance through 'conversations about race', conformity, or deracialization, and I think our community has suffered by not upholding and building our culture and supporting our community culturally, economically, spiritually, and politically.

That last statement might sound hypocritical since I'm not supporting the most likeliest fawned over black film of the year but I don't think the ideology pushed by this film is beneficial or that it can generate the debates we need. It just canonizes the black liberal consensus (there I go again) and continues deifying the Civil Rights Movement (there I said it), or the media's take on the movement. We need the creative tension of black liberalism, conservatism, and nationalism.
Title: Re: Why 'Lee Daniels' The Butler' Has 41 Producers
Post by: Redjack on August 19, 2013, 05:13:40 pm
This film is not worthy of serious discussion unless it is the sort of corrective conversation that follows any big lie.

Oprah and Daniels are not incapable of being part of a "freedom movement." They are incapable of identifying or describing it.

As for the rest. You said what you said and the implication of your approach was clear. I'm not a joiner and I don't do second impressions but we can keep talking if you want.

Implications are seldom clear, especially when reading tone online.

Why are Winfrey and Daniels incapable?
What is the big lie?


I'm not dancing with you.


I've described it here a couple of times. It's a view that's supported by others though not nearly enough.


Winfrey and Daniels, among others, are not capable of identifying the actual struggle because their real constituency is middle class whites, center, center right and "liberal." The core support of Miss Winfrey comes not from blacks but from middle class white women an that is the audience to whom she caters. THis is why black men get treated poorly in the movies she chooses to act in and produce and why the stories she promotes mostly reinforce the negative stereotypes of all blacks, only softly, wrapped in "Homespun" "down homeyness" that seems pleasant and sweet.


Kool Aid.


Daniels? An entirely forgettable presence who DIRECTLY and SOLIDLY presents modern versions of the worst tropes and stereotypes the rest of us have worked hard to put down and in which too many whites still believe. MONSTER'S BALL? PRECIOUS? Had a white directer presented these films we'd STILL be talking about what a racist he was. Critics LOVED them. Halle got an Oscar.



With friends like these...


You know the rest.
Title: Re: Why 'Lee Daniels' The Butler' Has 41 Producers
Post by: Metro on August 19, 2013, 06:17:48 pm
I think you're confirming what my concerns were. The black power movement/black nationalism has to be dismissed and considered disreputable, as evidenced by the behavior I read about from the disrespectful son and his female friend. The black nationalists, as symbolized by the son in that scene had to be symbolically slapped down and its adherents had to be described as ungrateful. This is more bashing of black nationalism and I think it does us a disservice to dismiss that strain of thought.

In fact I think our embrace of black liberalism and the dominance of the black liberal consensus (I'm stealing that term now) is one of the reasons why our political debates have become so tired and stale. Black liberals are constantly trying to seek white acceptance through 'conversations about race', conformity, or deracialization, and I think our community has suffered by not upholding and building our culture and supporting our community culturally, economically, spiritually, and politically.

That last statement might sound hypocritical since I'm not supporting the most likeliest fawned over black film of the year but I don't think the ideology pushed by this film is beneficial or that it can generate the debates we need. It just canonizes the black liberal consensus (there I go again) and continues deifying the Civil Rights Movement (there I said it), or the media's take on the movement. We need the creative tension of black liberalism, conservatism, and nationalism.

The presentation in LDTB of the Black Power Movement is nuanced, imo.  It begins with the necessity of confronting northern racism and police brutality with tactics beyond the SCLC. 

Glaude's point on the black radical imagination is a huge concern with the later presentation of the son's Black Power commitments and his leaving the Panthers over their acceptance of violent self-defense.  His statement that he is "not ready" to kill is one of the more difficult moments in the film and it does not negate the legitimacy of people who do feel violent self-defense is essential.  However, the son's perspective on the need for more assertive resistance *wins out* by transforming his mother and father to a Pan-African perspective on South African apartheid. 

I can't recall a 'mainstream' feature film that endorsed Pan-Africanism as the political grounds for African-American family reconciliation.


The slapping remains focused on the son's rejections of the father's support and perspective.  The father had an equal part in the problems in their relationship, but the son's actions made the situation worse, not better, in that scene.


I think it is beyond the film's ability to "canonize" or "deify" anyone. 

If it serves to move 50% of African Americans over age 40 to reconsider the relationship between Civil Rights and Black Power (as Dr. Peniel Joseph's amazing work advances), that's a victory.  If it moves 30% over European Americans over age 40 to consider the continuing damage of "benign neglect" (specifically discussed in the film) and "conservative colorblindness" (represented by the Reagan presidency), that's miraculous.


I'd love to see a serious discussion of the differences between black conservatism and black nationalism, especially since 1970.  However, that remains for a future project.
Title: Re: Why 'Lee Daniels' The Butler' Has 41 Producers
Post by: Metro on August 19, 2013, 06:33:32 pm
I'm not dancing with you.

I've described it here a couple of times. It's a view that's supported by others though not nearly enough.

Winfrey and Daniels, among others, are not capable of identifying the actual struggle because their real constituency is middle class whites, center, center right and "liberal." The core support of Miss Winfrey comes not from blacks but from middle class white women an that is the audience to whom she caters. THis is why black men get treated poorly in the movies she chooses to act in and produce and why the stories she promotes mostly reinforce the negative stereotypes of all blacks, only softly, wrapped in "Homespun" "down homeyness" that seems pleasant and sweet.


Kool Aid.


Daniels? An entirely forgettable presence who DIRECTLY and SOLIDLY presents modern versions of the worst tropes and stereotypes the rest of us have worked hard to put down and in which too many whites still believe. MONSTER'S BALL? PRECIOUS? Had a white directer presented these films we'd STILL be talking about what a racist he was. Critics LOVED them. Halle got an Oscar.

With friends like these...

You know the rest.

On Winfrey, her television audience and earlier film content negates any present or future work, despite the actual presentation of black men as full, evolving human beings in LDTB.

On Daniels, past bad acts (MB, worst ever, imo; Precious, generally poor, imo) invalidates any present or future work. 

Got it.

I still can't equate either of them with D.W. Griffith (who also tried to compensate for BOAN) or V. Fleming, let alone Jessy Terrero or Ice Cube.

The earlier point on the limits of Hollywood portrayals (or Marvel/DC, for that matter) is very true. 

I probably take this conversation more to heart because I spend so much of my time uncovering forgotten historical figures who made the brighter lights of the southern Civil Rights Movement possible.  Rejecting the Cecil Gaines character and his story comes too close to negating George White, Lenora Walker McKay, Caleb Oates, and Lillie Hendry for me.
Title: Re: Why 'Lee Daniels' The Butler' Has 41 Producers
Post by: Redjack on August 19, 2013, 06:38:18 pm
I'm not dancing with you.

I've described it here a couple of times. It's a view that's supported by others though not nearly enough.

Winfrey and Daniels, among others, are not capable of identifying the actual struggle because their real constituency is middle class whites, center, center right and "liberal." The core support of Miss Winfrey comes not from blacks but from middle class white women an that is the audience to whom she caters. THis is why black men get treated poorly in the movies she chooses to act in and produce and why the stories she promotes mostly reinforce the negative stereotypes of all blacks, only softly, wrapped in "Homespun" "down homeyness" that seems pleasant and sweet.


Kool Aid.


Daniels? An entirely forgettable presence who DIRECTLY and SOLIDLY presents modern versions of the worst tropes and stereotypes the rest of us have worked hard to put down and in which too many whites still believe. MONSTER'S BALL? PRECIOUS? Had a white directer presented these films we'd STILL be talking about what a racist he was. Critics LOVED them. Halle got an Oscar.

With friends like these...

You know the rest.

On Winfrey, her television audience and earlier film content negates any present or future work, despite the actual presentation of black men as full, evolving human beings in LDTB.

On Daniels, past bad acts (MB, worst ever, imo; Precious, generally poor, imo) invalidates any present or future work. 

Got it.

I still can't equate either of them with D.W. Griffith (who also tried to compensate for BOAN) or V. Fleming, let alone Jessy Terrero or Ice Cube.

The earlier point on the limits of Hollywood portrayals (or Marvel/DC, for that matter) is very true. 

I probably take this conversation more to heart because I spend so much of my time uncovering forgotten historical figures who made the brighter lights of the southern Civil Rights Movement possible.  Rejecting the Cecil Gaines character and his story comes too close to negating George White, Lenora Walker McKay, Caleb Oates, and Lillie Hendry for me.


That's not a probelm I have.


Fictional characters are useful or they are corruptive. That's it. This one is not useful and is entirely corruptive and has ZERO bearing on anything that has ever happened in the real world. That's sort of the point.
Title: Re: Why 'Lee Daniels' The Butler' Has 41 Producers
Post by: Metro on August 19, 2013, 06:44:43 pm

Fictional characters are useful or they are corruptive. That's it.

Another binary; I understand.
Thanks for making your perspective clearer for me.
Title: Why 'Lee Daniels' The Butler' Has 41 Producers
Post by: Tanksleyd on August 19, 2013, 08:27:52 pm


Ya'know there was a cartoonish image of Oprah and Terrence Howard that made it's rounds about a month ago.
I thought it was a photo-shopped gimmick/joke
Surprise, surprise.
And Oprah's lip stick scene!!!
To die for.


Title: Re: Why 'Lee Daniels' The Butler' Has 41 Producers
Post by: Redjack on August 19, 2013, 08:43:45 pm

Fictional characters are useful or they are corruptive. That's it.

Another binary; I understand.
Thanks for making your perspective clearer for me.


no. i doubt you do.
Title: Re: Why 'Lee Daniels' The Butler' Has 41 Producers
Post by: Metro on August 20, 2013, 02:09:26 am
no. i doubt you do.

Best wishes for your continued success.
Title: Re: Why 'Lee Daniels' The Butler' Has 41 Producers
Post by: Emperorjones on August 20, 2013, 02:13:58 am
I think you're confirming what my concerns were. The black power movement/black nationalism has to be dismissed and considered disreputable, as evidenced by the behavior I read about from the disrespectful son and his female friend. The black nationalists, as symbolized by the son in that scene had to be symbolically slapped down and its adherents had to be described as ungrateful. This is more bashing of black nationalism and I think it does us a disservice to dismiss that strain of thought.

In fact I think our embrace of black liberalism and the dominance of the black liberal consensus (I'm stealing that term now) is one of the reasons why our political debates have become so tired and stale. Black liberals are constantly trying to seek white acceptance through 'conversations about race', conformity, or deracialization, and I think our community has suffered by not upholding and building our culture and supporting our community culturally, economically, spiritually, and politically.

That last statement might sound hypocritical since I'm not supporting the most likeliest fawned over black film of the year but I don't think the ideology pushed by this film is beneficial or that it can generate the debates we need. It just canonizes the black liberal consensus (there I go again) and continues deifying the Civil Rights Movement (there I said it), or the media's take on the movement. We need the creative tension of black liberalism, conservatism, and nationalism.

The presentation in LDTB of the Black Power Movement is nuanced, imo.  It begins with the necessity of confronting northern racism and police brutality with tactics beyond the SCLC. 

Glaude's point on the black radical imagination is a huge concern with the later presentation of the son's Black Power commitments and his leaving the Panthers over their acceptance of violent self-defense.  His statement that he is "not ready" to kill is one of the more difficult moments in the film and it does not negate the legitimacy of people who do feel violent self-defense is essential.  However, the son's perspective on the need for more assertive resistance *wins out* by transforming his mother and father to a Pan-African perspective on South African apartheid. 

I can't recall a 'mainstream' feature film that endorsed Pan-Africanism as the political grounds for African-American family reconciliation.


The slapping remains focused on the son's rejections of the father's support and perspective.  The father had an equal part in the problems in their relationship, but the son's actions made the situation worse, not better, in that scene.


I think it is beyond the film's ability to "canonize" or "deify" anyone. 

If it serves to move 50% of African Americans over age 40 to reconsider the relationship between Civil Rights and Black Power (as Dr. Peniel Joseph's amazing work advances), that's a victory.  If it moves 30% over European Americans over age 40 to consider the continuing damage of "benign neglect" (specifically discussed in the film) and "conservative colorblindness" (represented by the Reagan presidency), that's miraculous.


I'd love to see a serious discussion of the differences between black conservatism and black nationalism, especially since 1970.  However, that remains for a future project.

I have no desire to see this film, but you have so if you think that your assertion that the black power movement was nuanced I can't argue with that. Though to be honest with you I'm skeptical that it really was. The Butler symbolizes 'mainstream' black thought or that liberal consensus and the son symbolized black radicalism-to a certain degree. So his behavior and portrayal was a commentary on that movement. From what I've read about this film at least Cecil and I would assert his son were more than just characters, they were windows into the black experience. They were meant to convey that experience and help the audience understand it by personalizing it. So the son's rejection and disrespectful behavior, in that context, came to represent how some of the liberal elite (white and black) saw the black power movement then or perhaps see it today (since it is no longer a viable rival it probably is less threatening and now can be symbolically slapped down and corrected with some of that tough love that some folks feel blacks always need).

As for Pan-Africanism-I wonder if that term was ever used in the film? I also don't give that too many points since everyone today loves and lionizes Nelson Mandela. Granted for characters in that time period to take up the cause was important so I shouldn't belittle that, but in 2013, to have characters support it is as safe as depicting a movie about Civil Rights workers. Did the Pan-Africanism go beyond divestiture? Did the Gaines' also become interested in other African issues or become knowledgeable about African history or culture?

As for canonization, of course movies have the power to legitimate or reinforce ideas and I bet you the Civil Rights Movement was praised in this film. It's rightness and validity were reinforced, I'm guessing with some powerful emotional scenes. But this film is not designed to inject ideas or create discussion outside of the trite thoughts that 'we' are so beyond that time now, or that was 'ancient history', and 'look we got a Black President now! Look how far we've come! Yay!" So it can reinforce conventional ideas but not really generate new ideas or debates.
Title: Re: Why 'Lee Daniels' The Butler' Has 41 Producers
Post by: Metro on August 20, 2013, 02:32:15 am
I think you're confirming what my concerns were. The black power movement/black nationalism has to be dismissed and considered disreputable, as evidenced by the behavior I read about from the disrespectful son and his female friend. The black nationalists, as symbolized by the son in that scene had to be symbolically slapped down and its adherents had to be described as ungrateful. This is more bashing of black nationalism and I think it does us a disservice to dismiss that strain of thought.

In fact I think our embrace of black liberalism and the dominance of the black liberal consensus (I'm stealing that term now) is one of the reasons why our political debates have become so tired and stale. Black liberals are constantly trying to seek white acceptance through 'conversations about race', conformity, or deracialization, and I think our community has suffered by not upholding and building our culture and supporting our community culturally, economically, spiritually, and politically.

That last statement might sound hypocritical since I'm not supporting the most likeliest fawned over black film of the year but I don't think the ideology pushed by this film is beneficial or that it can generate the debates we need. It just canonizes the black liberal consensus (there I go again) and continues deifying the Civil Rights Movement (there I said it), or the media's take on the movement. We need the creative tension of black liberalism, conservatism, and nationalism.

The presentation in LDTB of the Black Power Movement is nuanced, imo.  It begins with the necessity of confronting northern racism and police brutality with tactics beyond the SCLC. 

Glaude's point on the black radical imagination is a huge concern with the later presentation of the son's Black Power commitments and his leaving the Panthers over their acceptance of violent self-defense.  His statement that he is "not ready" to kill is one of the more difficult moments in the film and it does not negate the legitimacy of people who do feel violent self-defense is essential.  However, the son's perspective on the need for more assertive resistance *wins out* by transforming his mother and father to a Pan-African perspective on South African apartheid. 

I can't recall a 'mainstream' feature film that endorsed Pan-Africanism as the political grounds for African-American family reconciliation.


The slapping remains focused on the son's rejections of the father's support and perspective.  The father had an equal part in the problems in their relationship, but the son's actions made the situation worse, not better, in that scene.


I think it is beyond the film's ability to "canonize" or "deify" anyone. 

If it serves to move 50% of African Americans over age 40 to reconsider the relationship between Civil Rights and Black Power (as Dr. Peniel Joseph's amazing work advances), that's a victory.  If it moves 30% over European Americans over age 40 to consider the continuing damage of "benign neglect" (specifically discussed in the film) and "conservative colorblindness" (represented by the Reagan presidency), that's miraculous.


I'd love to see a serious discussion of the differences between black conservatism and black nationalism, especially since 1970.  However, that remains for a future project.

I have no desire to see this film, but you have so if you think that your assertion that the black power movement was nuanced I can't argue with that. Though to be honest with you I'm skeptical that it really was. The Butler symbolizes 'mainstream' black thought or that liberal consensus and the son symbolized black radicalism-to a certain degree. So his behavior and portrayal was a commentary on that movement. From what I've read about this film at least Cecil and I would assert his son were more than just characters, they were windows into the black experience. They were meant to convey that experience and help the audience understand it by personalizing it. So the son's rejection and disrespectful behavior, in that context, came to represent how some of the liberal elite (white and black) saw the black power movement then or perhaps see it today (since it is no longer a viable rival it probably is less threatening and now can be symbolically slapped down and corrected with some of that tough love that some folks feel blacks always need).

As for Pan-Africanism-I wonder if that term was ever used in the film? I also don't give that too many points since everyone today loves and lionizes Nelson Mandela. Granted for characters in that time period to take up the cause was important so I shouldn't belittle that, but in 2013, to have characters support it is as safe as depicting a movie about Civil Rights workers. Did the Pan-Africanism go beyond divestiture? Did the Gaines' also become interested in other African issues or become knowledgeable about African history or culture?

As for canonization, of course movies have the power to legitimate or reinforce ideas and I bet you the Civil Rights Movement was praised in this film. It's rightness and validity were reinforced, I'm guessing with some powerful emotional scenes. But this film is not designed to inject ideas or create discussion outside of the trite thoughts that 'we' are so beyond that time now, or that was 'ancient history', and 'look we got a Black President now! Look how far we've come! Yay!" So it can reinforce conventional ideas but not really generate new ideas or debates.

The Black Power Movement has three phases in the film -- SNCC's transformation, the emergence of the BPP, and the unleashing of COINTELPRO.  It is basic, but it also goes far beyond something like "Forest Gump" while falling short of Van Peebles's "Panther".

If the son and father are archetypes, it still doesn't neglect the wrongs the father inflicted on the son and the specific awakening the father experiences to recognize his wrongs in not supporting his son more.

The term "Pan-Africanism" isn't used. Still, the father has more than one conversation with Ronald Reagan on the matter where Reagan reflects that he "might have been" wrong on civil rights and apartheid issues.  Following the dissonance between Reagan's personal affinity for Gaines and his political stand to support South Africa, Gaines joins his son in the streets, claiming he should have come to protest with him earlier.

LDTB is not as challenging as other films I've mentioned in this topic.  However, it is significantly more complex in dealing with the Civil Rights Movement than films like Mississippi Burning or The Help, especially in its focus on SNCC and not Dr. King. 

It closes with a reflection on how close this history is to the present day. and that both kinds of activism were required to bring down any of the barriers over the last fifty years.  There is no clear endorsement that today is better than yesterday.

It sounds like you wanted more of JHClarke's voice from "A Great and Mighty Walk."  It wasn't a feature film, but a powerful biography project, nonetheless.
Title: Re: Why 'Lee Daniels' The Butler' Has 41 Producers
Post by: BmoreAkuma on August 20, 2013, 06:31:48 am
Im not going to waste my time to look at this film. It is already bad enough that we have posters on Facebook saying "its our history you young folks need to see this". No I don't. If you want to have a film where there a serious discussion about race relations then maybe Panther would be that film. Unfortunately it costs a ton to get this on DVD and even harder to get it on VHS. However thanks to the power of youtube it is currently up and available right now. Iíll make sure to convert it and save a copy of a DVD for me.

When you pull yourself from the plug you realize all of the bullsh*t this country stands for. All of it. The lies the deceit everything. I just need to make sure my debts are taken care soon because I dont think I can take this sh*t anymore. I just want to buy me some land, live in a tent while they are building my house the way I want it. Dammit even have some type of a mini hydroponic place to grow my own sh*t.



Title: Re: Why 'Lee Daniels' The Butler' Has 41 Producers
Post by: Redjack on August 20, 2013, 11:29:01 am
no. i doubt you do.

Best wishes for your continued success.


i take that for what it's worth.



Title: Re: Why 'Lee Daniels' The Butler' Has 41 Producers
Post by: Emperorjones on August 20, 2013, 01:28:52 pm
Im not going to waste my time to look at this film. It is already bad enough that we have posters on Facebook saying "its our history you young folks need to see this". No I don't. If you want to have a film where there a serious discussion about race relations then maybe Panther would be that film. Unfortunately it costs a ton to get this on DVD and even harder to get it on VHS. However thanks to the power of youtube it is currently up and available right now. Iíll make sure to convert it and save a copy of a DVD for me.

When you pull yourself from the plug you realize all of the bullsh*t this country stands for. All of it. The lies the deceit everything. I just need to make sure my debts are taken care soon because I dont think I can take this sh*t anymore. I just want to buy me some land, live in a tent while they are building my house the way I want it. Dammit even have some type of a mini hydroponic place to grow my own sh*t.

I hope you enjoy Panther. I thought it was good in parts but would've been a better film if they followed the history of the Panthers, or at least Huey Newton and Bobby Seale more closely. Creating a fictional character in Judge and telling the story mainly through him had pluses and minuses. Though the climax at the end came off as more like a 70's blaxploitation movie if I recall correctly. There was one cameo, tying the film to Spike Lee's Malcolm X, that I thought was still pretty cool though. 
Title: Re: Why 'Lee Daniels' The Butler' Has 41 Producers
Post by: Emperorjones on August 20, 2013, 01:30:36 pm
Metro,

I have nothing else to add. Thanks for giving me more clarity on this film regarding the South Africa part and Gaines's eventual activism. It's still not my cup of tea though.
Title: Re: Why 'Lee Daniels' The Butler' Has 41 Producers
Post by: BmoreAkuma on August 20, 2013, 04:20:49 pm

I hope you enjoy Panther. I thought it was good in parts but would've been a better film if they followed the history of the Panthers, or at least Huey Newton and Bobby Seale more closely. Creating a fictional character in Judge and telling the story mainly through him had pluses and minuses. Though the climax at the end came off as more like a 70's blaxploitation movie if I recall correctly. There was one cameo, tying the film to Spike Lee's Malcolm X, that I thought was still pretty cool though.
I already looked at most of the film and yes they angela bassett continued to play the role of betty shabazz.

 
Title: Re: Why 'Lee Daniels' The Butler' Has 41 Producers
Post by: Emperorjones on August 21, 2013, 02:11:51 am
This Panther talk makes me think of another film, Night Catches Us with Anthony Mackie and Kerry Washington. It's about a former Panther who returns to Philadelphia (I think) in the mid-70s after the Black Panther movement has pretty much been neutralized. I had never seen a movie that really dealt with what happened after. And for the most part I thought it was respectful of the Panther legacy.

For some reason I'm also recalling Dead Presidents and that radical group in there. I don't think that was the Panther's though.
Title: Re: Why 'Lee Daniels' The Butler' Has 41 Producers
Post by: Metro on August 21, 2013, 03:51:02 am
Metro,

I have nothing else to add. Thanks for giving me more clarity on this film regarding the South Africa part and Gaines's eventual activism. It's still not my cup of tea though.


I appreciate the conversation, EmperorJones.  One of my favorite consequences of the "Panther" project was its soundtrack.  The lead single represented a lot of the nommo behind the Native Tongues movement in hip hop.

Freedom
Various Artists - Freedom (Theme from Panther) (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SvO97MwjJS0#)
Title: Re: Why 'Lee Daniels' The Butler' Has 41 Producers
Post by: The Griot on August 21, 2013, 07:41:19 am
See here's the thing. I grew up in the South. I was born in 1960, so many of the things that occurred during the Civil Rights movement happened just before my time. But I knew people on 'both sides,' those who 'went along to get along' and those who protested. The deal is that there is no clear line. Most of those who protested were raised, educated and supported by those 'get along' folks. So really there is no clear line between the two. We have this romanticized notion of the Civil Rights movement. Go talk to those who actually participated while they're still alive. Stop reading books that serve agendas. I plan on seeing the Butler because it tries to represent an aspect of that's not represented; the black folks who didn't flee Jim Crow, those who endures and made changes by educating their children, protecting them and giving them the knowledge and opportunity to try to make changes in their lifetimes. People like my parents.
Title: Re: Why 'Lee Daniels' The Butler' Has 41 Producers
Post by: Battle on August 21, 2013, 01:47:03 pm
See here's the thing. I grew up in the South. I was born in 1960, so many of the things that occurred during the Civil Rights movement happened just before my time. But I knew people on 'both sides,' those who 'went along to get along' and those who protested. The deal is that there is no clear line. Most of those who protested were raised, educated and supported by those 'get along' folks. So really there is no clear line between the two. We have this romanticized notion of the Civil Rights movement. Go talk to those who actually participated while they're still alive. Stop reading books that serve agendas. I plan on seeing the Butler because it tries to represent an aspect of that's not represented; the black folks who didn't flee Jim Crow, those who endures and made changes by educating their children, protecting them and giving them the knowledge and opportunity to try to make changes in their lifetimes. People like my parents.



"The Butler"  is starting to sound like a story about an African American family that eventually became reluctant heroes during the Civil Rights Movement, as there were (are) many of those kinds of people in real life.
Title: Re: Why 'Lee Daniels' The Butler' Has 41 Producers
Post by: The Griot on August 23, 2013, 07:39:39 am
This movie is stirring things up. I have friends on both sides of this as far as opinion is concerned. Most of the folks I know that have seen it love it, a few of them don't. Most of my friends who hate it haven't seen it; they either hate the concept, hate Lee Daniels, or both. I was getting kind of shaky about going but then I remembered I told my wife I would go with her so that's a done deal. Can't back out on the missus.  :D